This question when asked by my clients, I am reminded of Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got you Here, Won’t Get you There! One of our clients nominated his star performer, Akshay for our training program. The main reason being he was not able to reach his desired targets in selling high-value capital equipments, the way he was selling laptops and mobiles in his previous organization. It is generally believed that a great salesman can sell anything to anybody. Translated otherwise, most of us feel that a great salesman is the one who can sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo. The above statement is not true for the following reasons:There has been a paradigm shift from a Sellers’ to a buyers’ market. Today’s customers have more choices vis-à-vis their counterparts in 90s.
- Thanks to internet, today’s customers are knowledgeable. A person before buying a mobile or a car has done enough research on the net comparing products technically as well as commercially.
- If you try to sell something a customer does not need, there is possibility the customer express his anger and frustration on twitter/trip-adviser etc. and in no time the contents may go viral.
- In a low-value sale, generally the customer knows what he wants to buy and the interaction between the salesperson and the customer is transactional. The salesman needs to inform the product features, the price and the competitive comparison.
- In case of a high-value sale, or a key account sale, quite often the customer may not clearly know what he needs, he may have a vague idea. He needs a solution not a standard sales pitch. Precisely for this reason the salesman needs to be an active and empathic listener and also willing to probe deeper. He also needs to understand the customer’s business that is customer’s customer. Here the interaction is more on relationships. You will observe that the some of these competencies can be acquired but others are natural traits like strategic thinking. This is one of the reasons why a Star Performer in Small Sale may not always succeed in high-ticket deals or Key Account Management.
Paradigm Trainers Private Limited is having training programs on Key Account Management and Advanced Negotiation Skills in Bangalore ( 14/15th Nov.) and Mumbai ( 21/22nd Nov.) for more details : www.paradigm-info.com
Allied Technologies is a manufacturer of Special Purpose Machine (SPM) and friction welding machines in Bangalore. The company had received an order to manufacture tablet filling machines from one of its clients. Servo drives is an important sub-assembly for this application. Being an SPM, the company had invited a market leader called MACK servo ( name changed) along with a medium sized company called Leonardo Automation. In the morning session, after the client gave a presentation about the SPM dimensions and application, the senior managers of MACK Servo started pitching in their products. The MD was a bit perturbed as he could sense the sales pitch. He was expecting the vendors to provide a solution rather than pitch a product.MACK Senior managers changed the approach sensing the client discomfort.
Mr. Anil Purohit, the Director from Leonardo is a person known for his technical expertise. Rather than speaking about his servo products; he started speaking about the machine design and the relevance of the number of units needed in the SPM as suggested by the design team ( of the client) At one point of time Anil even suggested the client that the same result can be achieved by using less number of servo drives. The design team was quite apprehensive as the vendor was challenging the former’s competence.. However the client MD gave a patient listening to Anil’s proposal.. The meeting with both the vendors was over prior to lunch.The team from MACK were thanked profusely for their efforts. Anil was asked to wait.
After lunch the MD called for another round of meeting with the mechanical design team where Anil was also invited. The team listened to his novel idea of bringing down the machine cost by innovative design. A decision was taken where Leonardo was considered as a sole vendor and the order was placed on it. The price of Leonardo Servo was higher vis-à-vis MACK. However the overall cost was lower due to an innovative design approach.
This was achieved due to the technical expertise of Anil about his product but also for value he brought for the client’s machine design.
Quite often salespeople feel price is the main factor in today’s business environment. However it has more to do with your technical expertise and what value your bring to the customer. Can the salespersons change their paradigm from price to cost of ownership?
Rajan Parulekar, email@example.com